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What Are Child Seat Belt Laws When Your Child Is Not Restrained in a Car Accident?

Navigating personal injury claims after a traffic accident can be challenging, especially if your child was involved in the wreck. If your child wasn’t buckled or restrained by a car seat at the time of the accident, you may wonder if you’ll face legal consequences and whether it will impact your ability to recover damages from the at-fault driver. In this blog, we discuss Indiana laws regarding child seat belts and restraints as well as how they impact your car accident claim.

Seat Belts and Restraints Save Lives

Time and time again, seat belts and restraints have been proven to significantly reduce the likelihood of a serious or fatal injury in traffic accidents. Utilizing child safety restraints is absolutely critical because car accidents are the leading cause of death for children under 13 in the United States.

The American Academy of Pediatrics stated that in order to protect your child, you should seat them in a rear-facing car seat for as long as they can before reaching the maximum child size.

Once the child reaches an age and size old enough for a booster seat, they should remain in their booster seat until they become four feet and nine inches tall.

Implementing these safety regulations can reduce a child’s risk of death in a car accident by 70%.

Indiana Child Seat Belt Laws

Indiana has several child seat belt laws designed to keep children safe in the event of a wreck. Indiana seat belt laws for children include:

  • Children under 20 pounds or less than 12 months old need to be seated and restrained in a rear-facing car seat.
  • Children over 20 pounds and at least 12 months old can sit in a forward-facing car seat.
  • Children under eight need to be placed in a restraint system that suits their size and weight, and their harness system needs to be federally approved.
  • Children who are too large for a restraint system must use a booster seat. Any child over 30 pounds can use a booster seat, but the Indiana State Police recommends that parents wait until the child is at least 40 pounds.
  • Although it’s not a legal requirement, safety experts recommend that children remain seated in the back seat until they’re at least 13 years old.
  • Anyone under the age of 16 needs to use a child restraint system or standard seat belt.
  • Everyone over the age of 16 is also required to wear a seat belt.

If someone drives in a vehicle with a child under the age of 8 who’s not restricted by federally-approved restraints, they commit a Class D infraction under Indiana Code 9-19-11.

Does Failing to Buckle in Your Child Affect Your Claim?

Although the law requires parents, guardians, and caregivers to restrain or buckle minors, an unbuckled child doesn’t impact your ability to recover compensation after an accident.

Indiana has a contributory negligence system, meaning that if you’re partially to blame for an accident, you won’t be able to recover as much in compensation from the driver who was primarily at fault. For example, if someone pulled out in front of you suddenly and you were driving over the speed limit at the time, the other driver may bear 75% of the responsibility while you bear 25%. This negatively impacts the amount of compensation you’ll be able to recover by 25%.

Failing to restrain or buckle a child doesn’t constitute contributory negligence. Indiana Code 9-19-11-8 states that anyone failing to comply with child restraint and buckle regulations does not contribute to the negligence involved in the accident.

This is an important stipulation because if your child becomes injured in a wreck and you didn’t restrain them properly, you still have every right to seek full compensation from the liable driver.

Contact a Children’s Personal Injury Attorney

If you or your child were injured in a traffic accident, you need to file a personal injury claim against the at-fault driver. You may be able to recover compensation for property damage, past and future medical bills, lost wages, loss of future earnings, emotional distress, and pain and suffering. You also have every right to seek damages on your child’s behalf.

Filing a personal injury claim in Indiana? Contact the attorneys at Crossen Law Firm. We can help you settle or win your case against the liable driver who caused your child’s injuries. Call our office today at 317-401-8626, or you can schedule a free consultation online here.